Generation “?”

Quilly asked me recently if I knew what a transistor radio was…  LOL, I am very familiar with transistor radios. As a child, I would slip my own little transistor radio under my pillow; after the lights were out, I would lay my ear over the speaker and listen to music until I was sleepy.

My dad bought a really cheap car (Plymouth Horizon Miser) when I was a young teen. The “Miser” edition — and yes, it was really called that! — didn’t come with a radio. Instead, he set a little transistor radio in the passenger seat, which would go flying off onto the floorboard every time he took a sharp corner.

Yes, I am old enough to remember transistor radios. I’m also old enough to have dialed a rotary phone through much of my childhood. In addition, I wore bell-bottoms (granted, they were hand-me-downs and slightly out of fashion) and learned to type on an actual typewriter (with carbon copies and liquid white-out).   If you’ve never had to use carbon copies, you don’t know how good you have it!
I have a somewhat sketchy memory but I do remember watching the first man on the moon — pretty impressive on our black-and-white TV!  My family owned a newer television set in time for Watergate, and I watched Nixon resign in color.
However, I was not yet alive when Kennedy was assassinated. To me, that is the marking of the end of the baby boomer generation. If you do not have that memory, you don’t really fit in with most Baby Boomers.  (Back in the mid-to-late ’80’s, there was an sure-fire way to make a Baby Boomer feel old: go out for drinks,  let them all talk about where they were when Kennedy was shot, and then tell them you weren’t born yet.)

Gen X-ers follow the Baby Boomers, so by definition, I am supposedly part of Generation X. I have read that Generation X ends with the last people to remember the Cold War, the Challenger disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the death of Kurt Cobain — and to have those things all mean something personally.

Cold War, check (I no longer think Russia will wipe us out with WWIII).
Challenger, check (I was at college, eating breakfast in front of the big screen TV to watch happy history being made… and then watched in horror).
Berlin Wall, check (you couldn’t pull me away from the TV – I watched the live images with tears streaming down my cheeks).
Kurt Cobain, ….  I didn’t even know the name until all of the publicity surrounding his death. To write this, I had to google him. So I feel a little lost with that last descriptor.  It makes me feel like I don’t really fit in with Generation X any more than I fit in with the Baby Boomers.   I didn’t rage against the machine. Grunge music* came into being after I went to college and was working to support myself. While I did wear flannel shirts in high school, they weren’t popular yet, just comfortable.  I had to buy them in the boys department at non-trendy shops because they weren’t sold everywhere.   It’s true, I wore flannel before it was popular and bell bottoms after they went out of style. I’m perpetually “off” fashion.

I guess that makes me part of a “lost generation” or something like that… those couple of years where we don’t really fit in either generation. There are probably some people born between Gen X and Gen Y that feel the same way.


*Small claim to fame: I graduated with someone who went on to become a member of Pearl Jam.


Where do you fit in? Tell me about your generation.

Thank you, Hilary!

22 responses to “Generation “?”

  1. I was only explaining transistor radios to my son the other day because his opa, my father , used to listen to Dutch radio in the middle of the night . I was born in 1963 and remember all the events you list for generation x. I don’t feel part of the boomers nor of the X ‘though.

  2. I need to write a post about some of the things that have changed/happened during my life-time… Next week!

  3. Funny!! When I was a kid and I had a birthday party to go to, my dad would usually buy a small transistor radio for me to give as the gift. (You know what a radio geek my dad is!!) I always thought it was a dorky gift, but the recipient always seemed happy with it. OMG – I remember that Miser – the one with the EXTREMELY tight clutch and required all your strength to move the manual gear shifter. It was pale yellow if memory serves me correctly. I think MY dad had its successor – the Dodge Colt. What a piece of crap that was!!

  4. I am officially the last of the Baby Boomers–1964, but feel both a part of, but not really belonging in the Boomers and Gen X. I cannot for the life of me remember the moon landing–though I’m sure we would have watched it–but do remember the “Checkers” speech.

  5. I’m a boomer, born in the 50’s. Truthfully, one of the rewards of getting older is remembering a lot of that history first hand, though I probably bore my kids to death with the stories.

    They do like that every week in their ‘first year baby book’ I wrote down a current event – something that was happening in the world at that time. It’s pretty cool to read 15 – 20 years later.

    I loved my transistor radio – I used to put it under my pillow too. Loved the story about the car your dad bought w/o a radio.

  6. I’m between generations, also – born in 1963. I remember my transistor radio, but could have cared less about Cobain. I didn’t see color TV until I left for college.

    We watched “Romancing the Stone” last night with our older kids; they were cracking up over the way the Katherine Turner character was typing her manuscript on a typewriter and then lugging the whole bulky thing over to her editor’s office. Ancient history!

    Also, no cellphones in the movie – unimaginable…

  7. I remember feeling old for the first time when I was in my very early twenties, talking to an 18 year old at the office. I mentioned the Woodstock festival and she had no clue what I was talking about. Then it dawned on her. “OOOOOhhhh you mean that little bird with Snoopy!” Sigh!

    I used to listen to my transistor late into the night, picking up radio stations in New York, Boston and sometimes even Atlanta.

  8. Given your descriptions, I think we must be pretty darn close to the same age!

  9. WE must be the same generation as I remember radios and phones you have to dial!

  10. i guess i’m generation Y, technically.. but i did learn to type on a typewriter, had a rotary phone when i was growing up, and had a childhood without the internet or cell phones 🙂 i don’t remember challenger (i was 5) – i think 9/11 is probably my generation’s challenger.

  11. so what generation are you in if you remember two of the things personally…Im so Confused!!!
    plus, i know what a transister radio is, but is that because i am nerd and not a generation x er…

  12. I remember transistor radios (loved them at the beach), rotary phones (one ringy dingy, two ringy dingies), Kennedy being shot (my parents sat in stunned silence, my mother crying a bit), wore bell bottoms & baby doll tops, so I guess I’m a baby boomer…but just barely LOL!

  13. I am a solid Gen X’er as I recall all three vividly. Surprised Reagan getting shot isn’t on that list.

  14. We STILL use a transistor radio!! Now THAT is old, right?! 🙂

  15. Since I was born in 1941, I’m not a baby boomer so I guess I’m a member of some other lost generation.

    Congrats on POTW!

  16. I remember running a erpone down my sleeve so I could listen to the world series at school. My teacher turned and asked who was winning, she watched my blank stare too long.Giving her the radio we listened to the rest of the game.

  17. For some reason I felt old at 25. Then the feeling did not strike me again until I was in my early 50’s.

    Still miss my cute little transistor radio.


  18. Oh blimey, this checked all the boxes with me! I arrived in the last week of 1959, and I’m guessing this to be around the time you must have too. What a wonderful post, it had me smiling and nodding throughout!

  19. Ahhhh…. Radio Luxembourg in the middle of the night…. bloggers from the other side of The Pond will probably remember.

  20. I was just four & a couple of months when JFK was assassinated. I do recall watching the news, but only vaguely. I remember transistor radios and rotary phones (hard wired into the wall). Manual typewriters and carbon copies, I even used a mimeograph machine that the church had. The original Polaroids where you had to time it then peel the backing off, then you had to stick them to a cardboard backing so they wouldn’t curl up!

  21. land of shimp

    I am utterly fascinated by the concept of a car called the Miser. Can you imagine the marketing campaign? Woo hoo! “Central casting? Send up your very best Ebenezer!” I think it’s absolutely hilarious that they could be that upfront about it. “The Miser” .

    I don’t know what generation I am either, but we’re roughly the same age (I’m 43). Perhaps we are the Undefined Generation. It beats being the lost Generation, I suppose.

    Fun post.

  22. I remember everything you do — and Kennedy’s funeral too. I was little — but I still remember Jackie in her black hat (yes – I loved hats EVEN back then) with the veil and little John-John who was even more bewildered by it all than I was. Weird that I don’t remember Caroline. I am definitely a Baby Boomer…

    I do remember the hoopla over Corbain — but I still don’t really know who he was… and I don’t feel like I’m really missing anything because of it. If he was president or something like that and I didn’t know, I would be ashamed… but a performer? Nah.